Counting economic, human losses of week-long global disasters

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By Tola Akinmutimi

As if the Devil and his forces were on their last rampage of destructive adventures preparatory to their final damnation, the past one week of human experiences in the global landscape have been characterized by disasters of monumental proportions across geo-political frontiers globally.

Indeed, the past week has caused the global community unquantifiable socio-economic and emotional distresses that experts begin to wonder if the far-reaching progress made in technological innovations and politico-religious diplomacy in the 21st century can really guarantee lasting peace for mankind on a sustainable basis.

Starting with the Venezuelan power outage debacle a few days back in which scores of lives were lost and the nation’s economy almost grounded to a halt through the Ethiopian airlines’ crash on March 10 in which 159 people were killed and the renewed Kaduna killings of innocent citizens by armed bandits as well as the Lagos Island building collapse which claimed many lives, amongst other incidents, the week has really been traumatic for humanity generally.

The week-long Venezuelan power outage had not only triggered an ongoing food crisis that led to thousands of Venezuelans fleeing the country to neighboring Brazil and Colombia but also cost the nation’s private sector an estimated $400 million loss with the attendant negative implications for jobs and poverty rate in the country.

Even when the magnitude of the socio-economic losses associated with the Ethiopian Airlines’ Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 disaster cannot be immediately quantified, the human casualty, involving two Nigerian top-notch academic and diplomat, remains another sad experience in air travels in recent times.

Also last Friday, some armed gunmen unleashed horrific attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 49 people and fatally injuring 48 others.

In Nigeria, the week-long harvests of crises across the world found expression in the renewed Kaduna killings of innocent citizens by armed gunmen in Barde village in the Kajuru Local Government Area and Nandu village in Sanga Local Government where at least 25 people were killed within six days.

In Lagos, innocent pupils of an illegal school located in Ita-Faji axis of Lagos Island left home early Wednesday for school only to be heard about no more as the decrepit building in which their school was located collapsed, thereby ending their ambitions to become great leaders of tomorrow through education.

According to the General Manager, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Mr. Adesina Tiamiyu, 12 people, including school children died, leaving agonizing pains for their parents and relations to bear.

Even as the shocks and pains associated with these disasters across the global community are yet to abate, another residential building collapsed on Friday in the Sogoye area of Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, but without human fatality. Only two people were reportedly injured.

As it is usual with such avoidable incidents, the authorities directly connected to them are already giving assurances of their readiness to probe into the causes of the mishaps with a view to averting future occurrences.

For instance, after initial feet-dragging, the U.S- based Boeing Company, the manufacturers of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, has initiated moves to conduct critical tests on the aircraft model to determine its technical fitness for commercial flights.

The Boeing 737 MAX 8 model, which recorded its first flight on 29 January 2016, entered service in 2017 and has 367 aircraft as at February this year, has been grounded by aviation authorities in all countries for now.

In Nigeria, the Kaduna State Government has moved to take care of the injured victims of the Kaduna mayhem and as it were, made another promise to prevent future killings of innocent people in the state.

This is even as the Lagos State Government has moved in bulldozers to the Ita Faji scene of the building collapse, marking down for immediate demolition of 13 decrepit buildings. The State Governor, Akinwumi Ambode, along with the wife of the President, Hajia Aisha Buhari, had paid condolence visits to bereaved families as the state government is providing medical treatment to scores of injured victims.

Reacting to the New Zealand attack on innocent worshippers and what should be done to frontally tackle the challenge, the Amnesty International has condemned in unequivocal terms the unprovoked attacks, describing the killings as a devastating reminder of the consequences of letting hatred and demonization go unchecked.

The organization’s Secretary General, Kumi Naidoo, described the incident as one of the darkest days in New Zealand’s history.

He lamented: “The attackers who unleashed their deadly hatred and racism upon women, men, and children as they took part in Friday prayers have thrown us all into shock and grief.

“This is also a moment of reckoning for leaders across the world who have encouraged or turned a blind eye to the scourge of Islamophobia. The politics of demonization has today cost 49 people their lives”, Naidoo added.

He charged world leaders to stand “against this hate-filled ideology” based on the reports that indicated that the attackers followed a white supremacist manifesto.

Speaking on the Nigerian building collapse incidents, a real estate expert, Mr. Gbenga Dominic, attributed them to depreciation of the structures, adding that the disasters in Lagos and Ibadan would have been averted if regulatory guidelines are followed by the state governments.

Dominic, a civil engineer, explained that “Nigerian governments and professional bodies should work together and be more proactive in their collective efforts to provide housing for all in the country. They have not been doing enough in this respect over the years.”

A security expert and former adviser to a state government who simply identified himself, for the purposes of print, as Mallam Abdullahi, said the “killings in Kaduna and other troubled states in the North East have a lot of religious and political underpinnings.”

Abdullahi explained: “It is well known to Nigerians and the international community that these killings and politically and religiously motivated. This is especially true of the Boko Haram saga that has defied all military solutions over the years.

“So, to end these wanton killings of innocent citizens, the political leaders and governments must be more sincere in fighting the insurgents. What they are doing now is nothing but a deceptive proclamations that fail to nip the fundamental crisis in the bud”, the security expert stressed.

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